Tales from the Trail

Wisdom of Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Kennedy and King in Obama’s new Oval Office

OBAMA/

The first family had a little redecorating done back at the White House while they were on vacation last week, just in time for President Barack Obama to make only his second nationally televised address from the imposing — and newly redone — Oval Office.

The presidential sanctum has been decked with new and reupholstered furniture, fresh paint and new, hand-painted striped  wallpaper and a new wheat, cream and blue rug made of 25 percent recycled wool, the White House said.

In front of the fireplace, there are two mahogany armchairs that were used by President George W. Bush, but have been reupholstered in caramel-colored leather. The brown leather desk chair is new, as is the coffee table, made out of American walnut and mica. The somewhat casual-looking couches were custom-made in New York and covered with custom-made light brown cotton fabric with red, white and blue threads running through it. There are also two new table lamps with blue ceramic bases.

The rug, made and donated by the Scott Group, a U.S. carpet maker based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is of course Oval, with the presidential seal in the center. It features five quotations important to Obama. And, fittingly for a president who campaigned promising bi-partisanship, they come from a Republican president as well as three Democrats, as well as the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

They are:

* ”The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” from President Franklin Roosevelt

Rough spots for Obama on the economic…. statement

USA-ECONOMY/

Things were looking good for President Barack Obama’s statement on the U.S. economy in the White House Rose Garden: the sun was shining in a bright blue late-August sky.

It was a chance to show that he was paying close attention to the issue most on the minds of Americans. The statement came just after he ended a 10-day vacation trip to the pricey resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, and before he launched into a week largely devoted to foreign policy, with an Iraq speech and Mideast peace talks on the agenda.

But everything wasn’t cooperating. Obama had to start his remarks three times because of technical problems with the White House sound system.

Democrats disagree on NY mosque, White House says no problem

Barack Obama and Harry Reid agree on most things.

They both favored stimulus measures to boost the economy. They both want climate change and comprehensive immigration reform to pass the Senate — at least someday.

OBAMABut the U.S. president and the top Democrat in the Senate disagree about an issue that could become a flashpoint in the November elections: whether or not a Muslim cultural center in New York should be built near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Obama has come out forcefully in favor of the rights of the builders to put the center, which would include a prayer room and an auditorium, near the site known as “Ground Zero.”

Washington Extra – cautionary tale

President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to strengthen border security, and just to make sure the message got through, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took the podium at today’s White House media briefing. Immigration has always been a tough political issue, and in an election year no great strides are expected on major reform before the November vote. “It cannot only be done by Democrats. The Republicans need to come to the table,” Napolitano said.

WALMART/The American consumer is still a cautionary tale. But consumer sentiment appears to have stabilized in August after dropping sharply in July. “Consumers are still cautious, but it is not double-dip material,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. In a separate report, U.S. retail sales rose in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness.

And finally, I tried to find something positive to say about Friday the 13th and realized there’s no need, because it’s still Friday!

Will Gulf getaway be much of a vacation for Obama?

A two-day trip to the Gulf Coast for President Barack Obama and his family will feature some beach time but maybe not a great deal of rest and relaxation.

OIL-SPILL/ANALYSTSPreviewing the first family’s vacation to Panama City, Florida, this weekend, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it would include briefings on the oil spill cleanup, an update on how weather would affect the completion of the relief well and discussions about the spill’s impact on businesses.

Obama will also serve as chief pitchman for the effort to attract tourists back to the region.

White House spokesman’s “professional left” comment bites back

If the White House was trying to fire up its liberal base ahead of the Nov. 2 elections, this was probably not the way to go about it.

USA/White House spokesman Robert Gibbs criticized the “professional left” for criticizing his boss, President Barack Obama, but the comment came back to bite him.

He’s talking about the various liberal cable TV talking heads and bloggers who complain the president isn’t living up to his promises to them.

Obama settles for half a sub

Can half a super sub really be considered super? And when is half a loaf better than the whole?

These questions came to mind when President Barack Obama visited a New Jersey sandwich shop and showed restraint by ordering half a super sub — although he did ask for everything on it saying he had heard that “is the way to go.” OBAMA/

“When I was 20, I could order a 12-inch. I’m turning 49 next week, which means just a half,” Obama said.

Obama girls get their own presidential lecture on fiscal responsibility

Just because they live in the White House doesn’t mean they can’t earn a little pocket money.

President Barack Obama says his daughters get an allowance and are nearing an age when they can earn some working capital by babystitting. OBAMA/

(We’re thinking the client’s child would be among the most protected on the planet because the babysitters come with their own bodyguards).

Rrrrrrring, it’s the President calling…

They talked. 

President Barack Obama called Shirley Sherrod at about 12:35 p.m. and they spoke for 7 minutes. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says the White House operator unsuccessfully tried to reach her twice last night but was unable to leave a voicemail.

POTUS offered his regrets, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had been sincere in his apology yesterday, and hoped that she would see “this misfortune” as an opportunity to continue her hard work on behalf of those in need. 

In just days, a charge of racism by a conservative  led to Sherrod losing her Agriculture Department job and ended in a phone call from the president. USA/

Barack and David practice beer diplomacy

The White House was once again the setting for beer diplomacy.

This time to demonstrate the chumminess of the new British Prime Minister David Cameron and the not-so-new American President Barack Obama and reaffirm that “special relationship” enjoyed by the two allies. (The two leaders are also both left-handed, so plenty in common). BRITAIN-USA/

They discussed the benefits of cold beer versus warm ale and Cameron showed sporting enthusiasm for the “312″ ale that Obama introduced him to.

“We have just concluded some excellent discussions, including whether the beers from our hometowns that we exchanged are best served warm or cold,” Obama said. “My understanding is that the prime minister enjoyed our 312 beer and we may send him some more.”